Monday, October 11, 2010

American Hardwoods: Poplar

The tulip tree is sometimes called a "yellow poplar" and is not related to the genus Populus (which includes Aspens and Cottonwoods). The scientific name Liriodendron covers 2 species of trees that is native to North America. Also called: canoewood, saddle leaf tree, and whitewood. 'Yellow pop' is easy to spot with it's simple four lobe leaves.

After 8 to 15 years of growth, the poplar tree forms yellow-green flowers that are similar in shape to tulips. Not to be outdone by oaks, maples and other trees, the yellow poplar is usually the tallest and protrudes above the canopy. They've been measured at 170 feet high; with the current champion in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 178.5 feet.

The greatest population of tuliptrees with a circumference over 20 feet can also be found in the GSM National Park. The mild climate with fertile, well drained soil is the ideal location for tuliptrees to flourish and may reach 300 years of age. The progeny of these trees will often outgrow both parents.

Yellow poplar wood is fine grained , easy to work, and is used in cabinetry and furniture framing. During the 1st half of the 20th century it was often used in furniture manufacturing.

woodburned plaque by wildwood

Poplar remains my preferred wood for my woodburning craft - although most of my experience is with Italian Poplar.

heed not the night;
a summer lodge amid the wild is mine
'tis shadowed by the tuliptree
'tis mantled by the vine
-Wm. C. Bryant

Find more American Hardwood articles by clicking on the label for 'hardwood' below. We've covered 18 tree species including Elm, Aspen, Oak and Maple . . . and our next species to profile in the AH series on Edge of the Wildwood is the Sycamore.

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